Drexel Materials sophomores Riki McDaniel and Marina D’Souza have been selected to be Pennoni Honors College 2016-17 Aspire Scholars. The Aspire Scholars program is designed to provide promising, curious, and motivated Drexel undergraduates an opportunity to further develop and clarify their goals, within a small community of peers and faculty mentors. Students are nominated by Drexel faculty and evaluated on basis of their intellectual curiosity and openness, engagement in areas of interest, and desire to reflect on and take steps toward realizing longer term goals. This year, 11 Aspire Scholars were chosen from dozens of student nominations.
Riki is pursuing his bachelor’s in Materials Science and Engineering, with a focus on researching polymeric materials. He first conducted research at Drexel as a 2016 STAR Scholar in Dr. Caroline Schauer's Natural Polymers and Photonics Group, designing novel electrospinning devices and synthesizing polymer-MXene composite nanofibers. In the fall of 2016 he joined the Macromolecular Materials Group, where he is investigating polymer structures under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Magenau. Outside of research, he is a member of the department's TMS Bladesmithing team and a board member of the American Society for Engineering Education.
Marina is pursuing a double-major in Environmental Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. Marina started conducting research as a 2016 STAR Scholar under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Sales, working on scaling up a novel photobioreactor design for growing algae at high densities. During her second year, she continued as an undergraduate researcher in the Sales lab, working on the new bioreactors she designed and constructed. Marina was a member of the 2015-16 Engineering Learning Community and was selected to participate in the 2016 Design Your Drexel workshop.